February 28, 2020
Nate tipped me off to Angle of Fear being ‘in’ a little more than three weeks ago. Amazingingly it was in and I was able to hold the rope and get dragged up it. Nate is one of the most stoked ice climbers I know. He’s been dreaming of AoF for nearly 10 years, when it was last in. He’d attempted it a few days after Case and I, but the temps were bitterly cold and he didn’t go past the approach pitch. He headed out for a couple weeks of work travel, bummed that he’d likely missed his chance on this classic rare Utah route.
Once again, amazingly the route was in three weeks later, knocking on the door of March no less. Nate had gotten into SLC less than 12 hours earlier and we headed out to Santaquin for a go at it. There was a bit of caution though since the route had been up so long and the temps have not been super cold lately. We chatted about it the night before and decided we’d get a modest start with the intent we’d climb after the sun exposure had come and gone. The thinking being that direct sun exposure will heat the ice quickly and cause more risk than warming due to ambient temperature in the shade. This rationale is based on a recent post on the Wasatch Weather Weenies site regarding shortwave radiation, longwave radiation, and latent heat flux. 🤓
Walking into the route we could see that indeed the sun was hitting the top half of the route. While pretty we hoped that the sun would quickly go behind the ridge and shade the climb to could cool down from the incoming solar radiation. Just as we got to the stream crossing we met another party who were coming down. They’d gotten there much earlier than us and had intended to be done the route prior to any sun hitting it. They’d had an accident on the first roof where the leader took a fall. There were no major injuries but were rattled enough to be heading home and they didn’t require and assistance from us. They left us with a warning of the ice conditions though.
The view on the way up to the climb was quite spectacular because of the interplay between the sun and shade on the route. The hanging tongue dagger had now grown and spawned into two huge features protruding from the main pillar at the top. We got to the base of the approach pitch and gave things a look around from a few angles while we waited for the sun to leave the route.
I brought us up to the base of the pillar and we were happy to see that the route was now shaded and while there was a good amount of water coming off one of the tongued daggers, it wasn’t on most of the route. The crack in the first pillar was bigger than last time, but still seemed reasonable because the base cone was strong. Cautious green light conditions for us.
Nate started up and made good work of P1. The roof crux was tricky, but we found the ice to be reasonably good. The main difference with the ice conditions this time around was that it was dry and hooked out. The protection was a little more difficult for Nate, but almost no swinging was required.
P2 brought us to a semi-hanging belay near the top of the climb. This gave a bit more even distribution of climbing, but an awkward belay. If I were to do it again, I’d probably stick to the two ledges for belays, or go from the first ledge to the top with long slings. The top pitch of lower angled ice was wet, but nice and sticky as a result.
I’m glad I was able to share on Nate’s date with the Angel allowing him to tick a box he’d been waiting nearly a decade to get. Nice work buddy.